ANIME & MANGA - Article
09:18 - 21st June 2013, by David West

March Of The Penguin Drum

Grief. Fate. Destiny. Curry. Penguins. Only one anime has the vision, the courage and the sheer lunacy to bring all of these together in one handy, travel-sized series. That anime is Penguindrum. Play that wild rhythm, my flightless friends.

What is fate? If the course of your life is pre-destined, then what does that mean for the way you choose to act? Does the ability to make decisions still matter at all if the ultimate outcome, your very destiny, is unalterable? Himari Takakura is just a teenager, but she has already been forced by fate to face her own mortality, as she has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Her physician, Dr Washizuka, believes that the best prognosis she can hope for is to live for several months, but no longer than that. If fate does exist, then it has dealt the young girl a cruel hand, but her brothers, Kanba and Shoma, are determined to make sure Himari gets the best possible care and as much enjoyment out of life as possible, however long she has.

One day, on a visit to the aquarium, Himari wanders away from Shoma and collapses. She is rushed to hospital but it is too late. She is beyond the reach of modern medicine, and her life's journey is over. But as the brothers struggle to cope with their bereavement, the impossible happens. Himari sits up and is miraculously restored to life - by the penguin hat that Shoma bought for her at the aquarium as a souvenir. The hat has apparently seized control of Himari, and is using her to channel a strange, otherworldly intelligence that proclaims, in the haughtiest possible tone, that if the brothers wish to see Himari restored to full health, they must obey her commands. Desperate to save their sister's life, the brothers have no choice but to follow the penguin hat's strange bidding as it orders them to find and retrieve the Penguin Drum. Unfortunately the hat fails to provide any information as to what the Penguin Drum looks like. How can you find something when you don't know what you're looking for?

Following Himari's mysterious, if not downright miraculous, resurrection, a package shows up on the doorstep outside the Takakura household. It is marked 'Keep refrigerated' and on inspection contains three uncommonly large eggs. Later on the way home from school, Shoma realises he has left his subway pass behind. He feels a tap on his leg and looks down to find a rotund, blue penguin standing beside him holding out his subway pass. The waddling critter is one of three penguins to hatch from the eggs, one for each member of the family. The flightless waterfowls have assigned themselves a person each to follow and assist as they go about their day. Admittedly, given their diminutive stature, lack of opposable thumbs and complete inability to fly, they are of limited practical benefit. Mostly they seem content to eat any food that can get their flippers on. However, the Takakura siblings are not the only ones with penguin helpers. A strange young woman with red hair (who appears to be more than a little interested in Kanba) has her own waddling aide-de-camp - does she have some connection to the voice behind the penguin hat?

Find out exactly what the deal is with penguins, drums and hats in Penguindrum; out on DVD now from Kaze and Manga Entertainment.

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